Stop at Words

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We would like to warmly thank the people who helped us to complete this residence.

The Departement of Seine-Saint-Denis: Anne Gondolo, Cécile Hauser, Catherine Pollet. And the city of Saint-Denis for the exhibition of banners in the city.

AIR FRANCE Corporate Foundation for the banner printing and publishing the book.

Synesthésie team: Anne-Marie Morice, Assia Meliani, Xavière Graton-Marconnet, Alberto Calabria.

M. Dupond, Director of Rencontre 93 / Avvej . M. Ajenoui Abdel, maneger of Atelier Scolaire. The educational team of School workshop: Robert Comellas, Alexandre Astier, Isabelle Bermond, Amel Bensana, Abdelaziz Mougny, Mounir Jaabiri, Assia Rhadbane, Tchobe Paul, and Michèle Matthis for their hospitality, availabillity and kindness.

La Compagnie Aleph: Sébastien Naud for his energy and passion.

And then, of course, the youth at the "Atelier Scolaire" (School workshop), we wish them the best for the future: Abdoul, Alvin, Anastasia, Cécile, Cherazed, Djanna, Eden, Haïtam, Ilann, Jessica, Laure, Mélissa, Ousseny, Pierre, Quentin, Ryan, Sabrina, Saïf Edine, Saverio.

Eric Chauvier , Saraswati Gramich

GestureMusic. When returning from an outing, on the bus, the teacher was tired of the music. It is a bad one according to him, and too often interupted by advertising. He imposed a classical music. The teenagers from Rencontre 93 protested a bit. Then some fell asleep. Are they tired or  appeased ?

Gesture. The teenagers from Rencontre 93 realised their graffity on T-shirts. Most often they used their first name. They handle the ink, a spatula and a wooden frame. They must do the same gesture of tilting slightly the spatula (a 30° angle). The did the first gesture without pressing before executing the second one with greater pressure. I asked the teacher why this technique is preferable to a laser printing. My question is useless, I know. Just look at them, hesitating at first, then gradually make totally new gestures. What is more important: the T-shirts or the gestures they never realised?

Luc PessonLuc Pesson. The teenagers from Rencontre 93 were making fun of Luc Pesson when they acted in a theater. They accused him of not making a film with them when he installed his bunker Saint-Denis. They did a play entitled "Across". It refers to the inability of benefiting from the film. In the play, one of the young is hired as a security guard, but he is soon obliged to prohibit his friends accessing to the film scene. They protested virulently. Is the implementation of Luc Pesson film in Seine-Saint-Denis has something to do with the dream of cinema?

Rich. The teenagers of Rencontre 93 can badly imitate the rich. When they do a theater some need to assume the role of the rich, but they do not succeed. They have problems adopting the snobbish way of speaking, that could allow them to look rich. Is it because they do not encounter enough rich people?

Mac DoImitation. The teenagers from Rencontre 93 imitated their parents very well (in the theater), their violence, their tenderness, their mounted anxiety. Are they scorners at these moments? I do not think so.

Mac Do. The teenagers from Rencontre 93 went out. They wanted Mac Donalds for lunch. The teacher didn't agree. He said: "I am the one who is paying". The teenagers insisted: "Mac Donald! Mac Donald or nothing else!" The teacher proposed a real lunch or not at all. Finally, they accepted the real restaurant, a pizzaria (with entry and main course). Some of them said they do not like pizzas. The hardest is to choose, for them. When we are at Mac Donald, naturally, it is simpler. They accepted in the end. They sat on the table and waited. The waitress arrived. She was very patient. She explained what the chives is. They exchanged few words with her. They asked questions. What is the most important: the answer of these questions or the questions they never asked?

FootTelevision. Some teenagers from Rencontre 93 are fascinated by television, like all teenagers in France. They would undoubtly pass on it. Yet, on television, we only speak of flash-balls and the insecurity of the suburbs, especially in the upcoming presidential elections. Is their life can be summerized to that?

Embroidery. Some teenagers from Rencontre 93 do embroidery. Embroidery is not an activity for girls only. Who can believe it?

Insults. After loosing in a football game, one of the teenager from Rencontre 93 said to another "The truth is that at the next game I will break your leg into thousand pieces". He said it with the right voice. It is like a threat, but it is a joke. It would surely scare those who are not present at this time. "Fuck his mother". "Breaking legs". Why do these words scare the most when you are there to listen? Is the media really want to listen?


Girls. The girls from Rencontre 93 are talented in football. At the match I saw, they seem to be less natural than the boys, but more technical. Is being physical is anough to win a game? / On the 06-10-12, Eden challenged this observation. She agreed at some sense,but she added that "girls are more physical than the boys".

Encouragements. The teenagers from Rencontre 93 encouraged each other during the slam workshop. A teen sais to another: “Put evrything that is going on in your head.” Their motivation to get out catches my eyes several time a day. Why do certain words, such as "encouragement" seem impossible here in Saint-Denis?

Joke. “Can it be a joke?”, asked a teen to the teacher during the slam workshop. In poetry, a joke is a genre in itself, as the prose epic. If this surprises you, you should ask why.


Seeking. “I am not copying, I am seeking a sentence”, says a teen during the slam workshop. Why do some verbs, such as "seek" seem impossible here, in Seine-Saint-Denis ? Is that there would be nothing good to find?

Face book. A teacher asked a teenager from Rencontre 93 why they like Face Book. A girl replied fast: “because it's too cool”. In other parts of France, which are not classified as proirity areas, young people have the same answers. Is this observation should be surprising?

Threat. In the medias, many reports show the teenagers in Seine-Saint-Denis as criminals who roam on the streets. We never talk about the adolescent lives from Rencontre 93. Most are out of school because their parents want to protect them from bad influences. They keep them at home all day. Why do we think that the teenagers in Seine-Saint-Denis are threatening? Why don't they say that they are threatened?


Césaire. During the slam session, one of the teenager from Rencontre 93 mentioned Aimé Césaire. from Caribbean to the building bar of Seine-Saint-Denis, the words of the great poet travel well. For young people, they express relationships with roots. They also express a sense of exile. The feeling of exile seems important here. Whatever the origin of teenagers, why should we not admit that they are in exile? Like a Swedish in Zurich or like a Swiss in Stockholm.

It is a perfect article !, said Vinojuice with a smile.

Soprano. Durant the Slam workshop, the words of a Soprano rapper was used to explain an embraced rhyme. I am thinking of those who say rap is only used to burn cars and there's nothing cultural in there. There are many who think this way. Why should we accept this kind of statement if they are based on the cons-truth?


Prejudice: I discovered that some teenagers are out of school not because they are on the street, but because they remain cloistered at home. I claim the right to be subjective and say that this is a phenomenon to be considered as well as the insecurity in the suburbs. Should we not be a bit subjective to break the prejudice?

Judge: In the theater workshop, the teacher asked a girl to play the role of a judge. She said: "I ​​do not like judges." She is not able to play this role, perhaps because of her personal history - I imagine it was difficult. she would probably end up agreeing to take on the role of a judge. Is it not that a mark of her superiority over the judge who never plays a role of teenager?

Future: The theater teacher asked K. what he would do later, "nothing" is the answer. With these words, "nothing", Isn't K. expressed exactly what he feels at that moment? Therefore, the answer is not negative. It is important for K. to say that he feels like nothing. People "socially inserted" can they make such findings?


Mixture : Russian and Spanish, Cape Verdean and Martinique, Haiti and Marseille. These words used by the teenager to discuss their origins just like a travel literature. Does Cultural mixes not frighten those who have forgotten the great literature of travel?

Lies: During the “tales” workshop, one of the execise was to learn to lie. H. must accept others who "eat wood", T. "lives in water", A. was "kidnapped". One of the three was actually credible and did not laugh. Which one, according to you?

Loch Ness (monster) : During the “tales” workshop, A. H. and F. invented a story where a fisherman feels ashame for his son who can not catch a fish. Being helpless, the son decided to go far in the sea. There he found a monster, Loch Ness, which he killed with bare hands. He brought it to the village on his small canoe. Discovering this, the father was proud of him again. I wonder why the teenager spontaneously thought of Loch Ness. Is it a parable? Will each of them bring a monster as big and threatening to gain the trust of adults?


Insults : In the street, insults showered between a boy and a girl, almost escalated into a fight. Passers by were looking back, curious, frightened. I especially understand the difference between the effect and the event itself. The effect of the argument may seem scary to those who do not know the context. For others, it is an a bit tedious event, but trivial and harmless.

Gendarmes. The teenagers asphyxiated gendarmes. This happens during the graffiti session on a wall of the institution. The gendarmes are insects. The mode of asphyxiation is a color spray. Here as elsewhere, we must be wary of appearances.


Errors. Graffiti is an exercise that speaks a lot for young people. By changing one color on another, it is possible to correct the mistakes they make (overflow, smudge, etc.).. The bad thinking says that it helps to promote indulgence for the errors. Is it not rather a way to realize it?

Look at. In the graffity, small defects that we see nearly become successful if you take a few step back to see the bigger picture. Are few steps back not the secret of wisdom?

Melancholy. “Desocialization, dropout, failure” are the words often used to evoke the lives of the teenagers. Why don't we ever speak about "melancholy"? Their personal stories are too often confused with the problems of society.


Fork. The teenagers learn to remove mud stuck under the hooves of horses. They have to scrape the nail firmly, and make sure not to hurt the horse on its fleshy part, called "fork". This gesture embodies the principles of social life: distinguishing the hard parts and the fleshy parts to hold their gesture and to channel strength.

War. A girl tells me she wants to join the army and do war. Why do young people want to go to war? Will they find something there or do they flee  what is happening here? Vietnam, Afghanistan, Iraq, does the cannon factory not based on this confusion?


Justice (1). During the theater workshop, a judge mentioned a court case known as "case B", the teenagers chose to play it on stage. This is a case of a theft and killing on an elderly person. She announced the sentence of the three suspected teenagers: twenty years. Some seem to be disappointed and demand a real deal: a life sentence. One might think that these references come from their experience of violence in the cities. In fact, they are from the "New York State Police" television series - they said. How far can we get a misconception?

Justice (2) : A young girl offers to return to the case "B". According to her, the victim's wife would have paid the teenagers to kill her husband in order to receive life insurance. Others agree in the same direction. Yes, it is the wife of the deceased who is guilty. The judge explained that the defense of these teenagers is not very defensible in the case. They still insist. Is not this the beginning of a good argument?


Future. A. explains enthusiastically that Rencotre 93 brings him "the future." I wonder how she saw her life before. How is a life without a future? Like the present that never ends? Like the past we can not forget?

Future (2).A teacher reads the paragraph on life without a future. A long silence through the audience. The emotion is palpable. Now that the emotion is over, we can talk about: what is a life without a future?

Famille. H. said that Rencontre 93, "It's like a family," as an extension of the family in society.One could also say "Like lacking of warmth in a social life."

Famille (2). B. confirms H that Rencontre 93, "it's like a family." He added: "We say more things here than elsewhere. Here, everything can be said”. Prevention is work of listening. Is repression a work of the deaf?


Rescue. H. also said that Rencontre 93 "has saved her", and that otherwise she would be on the street or going "live". She is full of energy and projects. Others will not find Rencontre and will go "live". Yet, they too probably have energy and projects. Rencontre makes me think of an oasis in a desert crowded with thirsty walkers.

Rescue(2). They listen to the story of H. arguing that Rencontre 93 “saved her”. Many teenagers are aware that Rencontre 93 is their "last chance". However, usually we use this expression when we have a life behind us (unemployed, at the end of a right, sick, etc.)., there is no life ahead.

Rescue(3). Prevention is to try to anticipate the problems we will encounter. However, repression is increasingly obvious and prevention as a last chance, especially with the approach of elections. Does this mean that you no longer wish to anticipate the future?


Speaking. A. said that at Rencontre 93, "we can talk." In the beginning, there is always the verb. It is written in religious texts. Speaking, it is the beginning of the end of the violence.

Speaking(2). Forms of violence are very different, but they still rely on the absence of words. Violence in the sensitive neighborhoods is related to weapons and drugs. Violence in the uptown is not to appoint violence of sensitive neighborhoods as other than stereotypes - of fear, indifference or contempt.

Mother. A. said that at Rencontre 93 "you can talk of a mother." She said this as if it was something special. By contrast, what is the worth of the situations and places where we can no longer speak of a mother? Anastasia also said, "Rencontre 93 is a family."


Daron / daronne : To the contrary to what the media says, A. affirms that respect for darons and daronnes (fathers and mothers) is very important in the city. From my point of view, her daily live is more important than the words of the journalists, who will go to the cities for various facts or riots.

Difference. J. remembers him with affection. He's gone now. She said that he was different and the others laughed at him because of this difference. He left today to the south of France. He found a good job and looks radiant, perhaps because he cultivated his difference.

Normality. The teenagers of Rencontre 93 are always looking for a resemblance of normality in their way of dressing, in their musical tastes, their way of speaking. All that is suspected as abnormality is rejected. However, is the rejection of normality not the beginning of self-confidence?

Judging. “Do not judge what you do”. This is an instruction at the theater, to become an actor. Anyone who wants to play must learn to cultivate its difference to others. To judge is seen as erasing difference.


Booba. J. was talking about the rapper Booba and told me that she likes him, which surprises me because the image of the woman is very negative at Booba's discs - always as a prostitute or sex object. She thought for a moment and told me that I am right, some songs are "limited". Am I the first to tell her about the image of women in Booba's songs?

Booba (2). A debate was launched. Girls fired on Booba: "He's right, it's true that sometimes girls dress like whores." Boys did not speak. They do not need to talk. Is it because all the girls have told everything on their behalf?

Actors. During the theater workshop , B. agrees to play a woman. He has confidence in himself. The other boys watching, laughing. They are visibly torn between embarrassment and admiration.

Actor (2). B., who played the role of a woman said: "That's the theater, even when we play, it's always us." "I, in my life, I played roles as a protection of a phew". Erving Goffman, a sociologist, confirms B. In his theory, he explains that social life is like a stage where we must learn to be yourself while changing role.


Revelation. The theater teacher said to K again that his play is a revelation. It is true that K plays fairly. He is confident in discovering himself, which he did not realised. I am thinking of all the life experience that the teenagers in the housing bord have, which are too often useless. Most would probably be great actors.

Cynicism. The teacher theater said to B: "To be an actor, you must keep your cynicism." Confidence is willing to be oneself. Sometimes this discovery is long and difficult. Sometimes it never happens.

Guitar. I thought to play a rock song with a guitar here, where the dominant is rap was impossible. J. picked up the guitar and learned to play the song Seven Nation Army from White Stripes. I also have my prejudices.

Guitar (2). People are talking. Teenagers do not like just rap. One of them likes the songs of Jacques Dutronc, and another rock. Everyone has its prejudices.


Handcuffs.A. said she suffered when the police handcuffed her in public on the tram. She was humiliated and angry, but also the fact that her life could completely switch from that time. She could consider that she will not come out from the problem and must agree to be an outlaw forever. In cities, you do not become delinquent. One is convinced, after despair, to became one.

Custody. A and H spoke about their experiences in custody: beatings, insults, grave allusions, ordinary contempt of the policemen. They were not yet sixteen at the time. The teenagers grow quickly in cities.

Custody (2). The teenagers of Rencontre 93 confirmed all the custody violence. They are unanimous. On this subject, the sociologist Didier Fassin explains that "the teenagers of the neighborhood know very well that they were controlled, most often, not because they might find something (as they are careful not to have anything on them), but because it is a way of imposing a form of social control. These young people are often extremely controlled and subject to the body excavations. They soon learn that they will be the subject to these controls. They also know that they have no means to go against these unjustified practices".


Vinojuice : The housing board is hot. Sometimes we like it, sometimes we like less, but in the nut shell, what happens is the shit ... it is almost like war ... Within us, we all like our cities, our buildings, our blocks, but we all dream to go away ... The city is like a work, except that only pays it brings is the prison.

Cherazed explains that at her neighborhood, life does not look like what described Vinojuice, it is less violent. Saif abounds in the same direction as Cherazed. Daily lives at Vinojuice's neighborhood is only one version of the story. There are many others. You should know how to listen.

Pouatate lives at the 15th arrondissement in Paris. The story of Vinojuice does not concern him.

D. confirms what Alvin said. She said she can no longer live here, with the smell of urine and shitt in stairwells, with the shots that happens too often. She can not even go to the public park next door, because it became too dangerous. She wants to live in the country side, with clean air and small birds. Even if it is boring in the countryside, it is better than here. Anything is better than here.


Cap. He still has his cap, with his hood over. It is a way to show that he does not get better, his face is not available for speech, his body avoids communication. They are also obstacles he puts himself, as if he ignores expiated fault and doesn't exist.

Slogan. "Living without hindrance" was once a political slogan. In general, it is less used in the upcoming presidential elections.

Cap(2). He left for Senegal for a project we chose for him. For two days, he no longer has his hat. This is a sign that he's better. As if he had withdrawn its chrysalis. He was a caterpillar and now a butterfly. His wings begin to grow.

Caps (3). Those who watch television reports on insecurity in the suburbs ignore the obstacles that these teenagers with cap and hood have. We take these signs as a risk of urban guerrillas. Elections is approaching, we vote more in fear. Prejudices nourish campaigns like a pitbull's steaks.


Learning. During the study, the argument of fatigue gets frequent. Concentration is very low. Yet there is always a little energy, a some envy that could change everything. A click, perhaps. Capturing these moments is a major issue that the leaders of the state in education should take into consideration. But the presidential elections approaching ... At the college, at a school life outside Rencontre 93, Melishou, who went there one week a year, said: "You have to follow everyone at the college. Nobody sees you."

Learning(2). She said that reading gives her a headache. Even the body sometimes becomes a hindrance. However, for a few moments as we speak, she becomes receptive. Capturing these moments of stimulation means giving up the performance requirement. The problem is that the model of this society is based on the performance requirement, not the ability to capture these moments. This requirement is destructive. We know we are in doubt. But the elections are approaching, my good lady.


Miss France. They evoke the election of Miss France and a "beautiful muscular black." They also talk about the orange peel effect on the skins of the miss. Those who, at the approach of elections will again evoke the insecurity, urban warfare and the requirement results do not listen to the teenagers talking. If they did, they would realize that teenagers speak of Miss France and very ordinary things. Yes, but if they listened, they would go for that? Weak people? Especially in times of crisis that prevails withdrawal. What should we think about a society in which listening is seen as a sign of weakness?

Specificities. "Being in the theater is exploiting one's temperament, one's specificities". This is explained by the teacher of theater. "You are all individuals." This reminder is important: remembering that you are someone special may even considered as a pathology. It is the disease of normality.

Applause. They are cheering at the theater workshop. "That nobody can take it away," said their teacher. This is a proof that it pays to have peculiarities.


Battle. Today, in the theater workshop, both mute group played mute roles. They stood in front of the other and sat on chairs in the middle of the stage. It's been months that everyone expected it. We must take the time. Battles are won in the time it takes to listen. Not in the demand for results. We know everything. So why not make it as a national priority?

Problems. "Leave the problems outside the room reserved for the theater." This is the slogan of the teacher. The theater is an interlude where everything could be possible. And where everything is possible. The example of the two mute is a proof.

Horse boxTransmission – Soldiers returning from war trauma said nothing. The horrors they have experienced can not find words. These experiences can not be transmitted. Then the soldiers live with it and are condemned to suffering. All things considered, I feel that teenagers of Rencontre 93 returned from their personal war. Here at Rencontre 93, it would be in some ways the beginning of peace.

Pouatate repeated these words "personal little war." He confirmed: "Yes, that's right." Even if he said nothing more, even if he remained silent, the fact that he spontaneously repeated these words is important for me, and him too, I hope.